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 “Come over to …” the call for Sunday School Teacher Training

In Acts 16:9 we read of Paul’s vision of a man from Macedonia saying: “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” A similar request is being made when it comes to SIM Malawi’s Sunday School Teacher Training Programme. But rather than the call coming from Macedonia it is coming from neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia.

This call has come through the work of a new partner organisation – Sunday School Training United Movement (STUM). Set up in 2012 by Pastor John Msowoya, STUM has seen a dramatic start to its training work, and the model it uses is now being sought out by people in neighbouring countries.

“STUM operates on three levels,” said John Msowoya (pictured right).

“We have Clusters, which are groups of between three and ten churches in an area; then we have Zones which are collections of Clusters; and finally we have Districts which are collections of Zones. Our vision is that, by working across all denominations, we will be able to provide every church in Malawi with the materials it needs to run a Sunday School, to train the teachers it needs, and to make sure there is a Sunday School in the first place!

“The development of this model has been so successful that in just two years we are seeing some exciting developments. We have people working in areas close to the Mozambique and Zambia borders, and people from those countries are now demanding that we go and advise how they can set the model up so they can improve how they train their Sunday School teachers.”

STUM is the latest development in around a decade of hard work carried out by SIM Malawi’s Sunday School Teacher Training Co-ordinator, Jim Young. When he first arrived, with his wife Diane and family, from New Zealand in 2003/04 he was working exclusively with SIM Malawi’s partner the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC). Since 2008 that work has developed to cover most, if not all, church and denominational groups, and has led Jim and his team to travel the length and breadth of Malawi several times over, delivering the training. With the cost of all this travelling increasing, something needed to be done.

“We realised that, despite all of this travelling, we needed to make more progress in the training programmes, faster progress than we had been able to do to that point,” said Jim Young.

“So we were delighted that John caught the vision we had and saw the potential of forming committees to help deliver training on a more local level, that was the beginning of STUM and its model of Clusters, Zones and Districts.

“We realise that SIM Malawi will still need to help resource the organisation because everyone working for STUM does so as a volunteer. This means we will still need to support with financial and other resources to help it get off the ground.”

But the link with STUM is not the only new development in this ministry which is part of the SIM Malawi ‘Reach Children and Youth’ focus area. A recent four-day training course held in Kasungu, two hours north of Lilongwe, was run by Bible Centred Ministries (BCM).

BCM was set up in 1936 as the Bible Club Movement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Currently it has 700 missionaries worldwide and looks to work in the areas of church planting and children’s ministry.

Sunday School Teachers working together during the Kasungu training event

“Being Children’s Ministry Co-ordinator for Africa with BCM, my work is to make contact with people in different countries and organisations to see how we can work together,” said Pat Govender, speaking at Kasungu where she and colleague Pat Black, BCM’s Lead Trainer, were the course facilitators.

“BCM does not want to work alone; our vision is to work with churches and partners like SIM Malawi and STUM to strengthen existing ministries. In training events such as this one we offer our ‘In Step with the Master’ programme to train trainers who can then go back to their own churches and communities and train children’s workers and Sunday School teachers there. By working this way we can reach even more children with the Gospel.”

With new partnerships coming on board, the future for this aspect of SIM Malawi’s work is looking exciting, as both Jim and John explained.

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Problem solving at Kasungu

od is into giving surprises!” said Jim.

“So only God knows really, but it is exciting whatever the next step may be – time will tell!” he said.

“I see the relationship between STUM and SIM Malawi like a baby and its mother,” said John.

“STUM is the baby being held by its mother. SIM Malawi wants to see that baby grow and so do we; we are sure that one day the baby will be able to run on its own but for now we are grateful for the partnership we have.”

 

If you would like to support SIM Malawi’s Sunday School Teacher Training Programme please quote Project Reference MW 96556 ‘Christian Education Resources’

 

 


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